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Activity in the housing market begins to climb

18 September 2007
New figures from The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) show that activity in the housing market has started to increase following a slowdown in July.

NAEA president, Stewart Lilly, said: “The housing market needs a period of sustained stability to allow people to take stock of the current situation and think carefully about their own personal options. Over the last forty years I have seen many peaks and troughs in the market and at this present time I cannot see any troughs on the horizon.”

A rise in the number of registered buyers, properties on estate agents’ books and sales per agent in August was expected, as this is fairly typical for the post-summer period. However, with the current instability in the global economy, these figures were largely lower than those recorded last August.

Agents reporting a rise of 3.8 per cent in the number of people looking to purchase a home in August compared with July. Agents had an average of 326 buyers registered on their books in comparison to 314 in July. Despite the slight increase, this is the lowest August rise since 2003.

First-time buyers accounted for a smaller share of the market In August, with a share of 9.7 per cent compared with 13.4 per cent last year.

“The latest figures indicate that a period of low house price inflation may well be on its way. However, the recent introduction of the second phase of HIPs is likely to cause more disruption and in particular prompt a ‘wait and see’ strategy from individuals who are unsure about the full impact of the legislation,” said Mr Lilly.

The number of houses for sale returned to normal in August, with NAEA members reporting an average of 81 properties for sale compared with just 45 properties reported the previous month. However, the number of four bedroom and larger properties on the market decreased by approximately 37 per cent in August as the launch of home information packs started to take its toll.

An average of 12 houses was sold per agent in August compared with ten in July. However, the 2006 average for the same month was 15 houses. The average time taken to sell a property increased to 18.2 weeks in 2007 compared with 17 weeks in the corresponding period last year.

Furthermore, the average gap between asking and selling price widened to 3.5 per cent in August compared with 3.1 per cent in August 2006. A gap this wide has not been reported since February 2006. As a result, the NAEA is warning homeowners to be more realistic when pricing properties.

Find out more about mortgage interest rates and home information packs (HIPs)